Eat smart - be smart 

Heading off to university is an exciting time and it is easy to overlook some more practical aspects of leaving home; like your diet and eating sensibly. The food you eat can have an impact on how your mind and body works, so a basic knowledge of how to eat healthily will help you get the most out of your university experience and create healthy lifetime eating habits.

The government recommends that we eat a diet that is based on starchy carbohydrates such as breads, potatoes, and other cereals, choosing wholegrain varieties, or eating potatoes with their skins on for more fibre. It is also recommended to eat a diet rich in a variety of fruit and vegetables, include moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, moderate amounts of lean meat and fish and other non-dairy protein sources and limited amounts of foods containing fat or sugars.

No single food can provide you with all the essential nutrients the body needs. Therefore, it is important that you eat a wide variety of foods which will provide you with adequate amounts of essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals and dietary fibre, which are all important for your physical health and well-being.


Try to include fruit or vegetables with each meal, and as some snacks, to make sure you eat the recommended at least 5 A DAY. Below are some examples of what counts as a portion.


How much is one portion?
  • 2 small fruits e.g. plums, satsumas, kiwi fruit
  • 1 apple/banana/pear/orange
  • 7 strawberries
  • Half a grapefruit
  • A 5cm slice of melon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit e.g. raisins, sultanas
  • 2 dried figs or 3 prunes
  • 2 broccoli spears
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of cooked kale/spinach/green beans
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked veg (from fresh, frozen or canned) e.g. sweetcorn, carrots
  • 7 cherry tomatoes
  • 5cm piece of cucumber
Beans and pulses
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of baked beans/kidney beans/chickpeas (maximum of one portion a day no matter how much you eat)


As money may be tight, buying fruit and vegetables that are in season is usually cheaper, as is buying loose produce or fruit and vegetables from local markets. You can also save money by peeling and chopping vegetables yourself rather than buying ready prepared produce. Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables are also good options and still count as one of your 5 A DAY and can be stored until needed. If choosing canned fruit or vegetables try to go for versions without added salt or sugar.

For more on healthy diets click here.